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The Book "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" speaks of the destruction of early Christian texts during the persecutions of the emperor Diocletion of 303 A.D., after which it continues: “As a result Christian documents—especially in Rome—all but vanished. When Constantine commissioned new versions of these documents, it enabled the custodians of orthodoxy to revise, edit, and rewrite their materials as they saw fit, in accordance with their tenets. It was at this point that most of the crucial alterations in the New Testament were probably made and Jesus assumed the unique status he has enjoyed ever since. The importance of Constantine’s commission must not be underestimated. Of the five thousand extant early manuscript versions of the New Testament, not one predates the fourth century. The New Testament as it exists today is essentially a product of fourth-century editors and writers—custodians of orthodoxy … with vested interests to protect.”

There are a number of inaccuracies in this passage. In the first place, no credible historian would accept Holy Blood Holy Grail’s assertion that all extant copies of the New Testament perished during the persecution begun under Diocletion in 303, nor its claim that “Of the five thousand extant early manuscript versions of the New Testament, not one predates the fourth century.” The most obvious reason being in both cases that numerous New Testament manuscript portions exist today that predate 303 – the time of the Diocletian persecution and even predate the year 100 A.D. And these can often be viewed by the public in various universities and museums. (by the way, there are well over 25,000 ancient N.T. manuscript examples, not 5,000). Furthermore, the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail appear to show their ignorance of basic facts when they say that: “Christian documents—especially in Rome—all but vanished.” The assumption behind the statement seems to be that since Diocletian was the Roman emperor, Rome must have been hit hardest, since it would have been the center of his activities. As a matter of fact, however, Diocletian reigned from his capital in the East, at Nicomedia.

The reality is that Constantine could have never gotten away with changing the Bible. Christians like Athanasius of Alexandria, for example, who suffered exile under “Christian” emperors no less than five times during his life for his unflinching defense of true Christianity, would have immediately protested. But the real baseless character of the story becomes exceedingly clear when one looks at the sum-total of the actual evidence that serves as its alleged basis. Here it is:

In 324 AD Constantine captured a relatively insignificant city on the west bank of the Bosporous towards its southern end called Byzantium. Here he decided to establish a new capital himself that would rival the glory of Rome. More than that even, it was to be the new Rome. A Christian capital for a Christian Empire. It was to be a city in which no pagan sacrifices were to be made, nor any idolatrous festivals celebrated. A City named for himself: Constantinople. Constantine dedicated it on 11 May 330.

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